Cyprus Foreign Minister heads to Egypt to hold talks on natural gas

Cyprus Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Markoullis will visit Egypt on the 2nd of November in order to have contacts about Cyprus` natural gas and oil exploration in its exclusive economic zone, a report from the state news agency said. In statements to the Press on Saturday, Markoullis said that a delegation of technocrats from Lebanon is expected to arrive in Cyprus next week to discuss issues concerning the exclusive economic zone. Later on, she will pay Lebanon an official visit.

Asked about the escalation of Turkish provocations towards Egypt and Lebanon to cancel agreements signed with the Cyprus government, Markoullis said that the Foreign Ministry has knowledge of this information and noted that Turkey is exerting pressure for the past six months at least.

She clarified though, that there is no problem in relation to the agreement with Egypt.

In Egypt, Markoullis will have contacts with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and with all the political leaders of the country.

Markoullis said that the visit of the delegation from Lebanon was decided during a meeting she had with her Lebanese counterpart in New York. We have agreed that a delegation of experts will pay Cyprus a visit to discuss all issues regarding our relations and Exclusive Economic Zone.

Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus northern part since they invaded in 1974, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Following a decision by Nicosia to begin natural gas and oil exploration in its exclusive economic zone, Ankara has deployed warships in the Eastern Mediterranean and has signed an illegal agreement with the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus to delineate what it calls continental shelf.

Drilling has already begun and is being carried out by Houston-based Noble Energy, off Cyprus south-eastern coast.

The government of Cyprus has protested to the UN and the EU Turkeys moves, saying it has a sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, pointing out that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will benefit from any benefits that may come from oil drilling.

Cyprus has signed an agreement to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it. (ANA)

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